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Mr. Smarty Plants - Leaves being eaten off columbines

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Monday - May 30, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Leaves being eaten off columbines
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, We recently planted some columbines and they have been doing quite well. Just today, we noticed that something has eaten all the leaves off a couple of the plants. Several that are planted close by seem to have escaped--so far. What could this be, and how do we treat it? Thanks.

ANSWER:

If all the leaves are gone, I would suspect deer.  I don't know what part of Austin you are in but some parts of Austin have high populations of deer and I can speak from experience that deer do like to eat Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) and Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana (Hinckley's golden columbine).  Both are listed as moderately deer resistant but in this time of drought the deer are very likely to eat whatever is available.  You can try some of the deer repellents (chemical or mechanical) that are available at nurseries or you can fence the area to keep the deer out of your garden.  Some people put black plastic netting over or use it to make a barrier around the plants to keep the deer from eating them.  It would depend on how tall your columbines are or how big your flower bed is as to whether this method would be a feasible method for your situation.  The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has an excellent article, "Reducing Deer Damage to Your Yard and Garden", with descriptions of several methods of control, including homemade repellents.

 

 

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